It's hard to capture the endless undulation of grey-green hills, and the way they briefly turned orange as the sun was setting; the delight I felt at seeing so many horses, antelope, porcupines, cattle, and birds. The stark beauty of those tree-less hills accented by outcroppings of scoria; the marmots, the cowboys, the buffalo, the bones – so many bones scattered throughout the fields! We affectionately coined one area "Death Valley" because of the mounds of cattle bones we found there.
|Chamberlain, South Dakota oil on canvas 30" x 40" 2019|
|"Iowa Windmills" oil on canvas 40" x 30" 2019|
|"I Want to Hide in Meadows" Oil on paper 22.5" x 30" 2019|
In the first days of the residency I made paintings about it, trying to capture the dizzying spectacle of all the new places I encountered and the anxiety I experienced driving on all those interstates.
After I got that out of my system, I was able to work more with the paint, and experiment with my marks and materials. I was trying to capture the naive enchantment I felt towards the landscape and the animals. I experimented with a new canvas that absorbs paint in a different way that I'm used to, inspiring a new approach and a more stylized outcome.
|Wyoming landscapes, acrylic on synthetic canvas|
At some point I began dragging my materials outside, letting the rain and wind become a part of the process. I used rocks to create peeks and valleys like the ones I was looking at, as a way to create different kinds of drips and marks. I let leaves and bugs get blown into the paint. I left a painting in a rainstorm overnight.
The landscape urged the creative process, and I didn't want to ignore the environmental challenges of painting outside. I can't pretend such things don't have an effect on the painting process – the hot sun on my neck, the frigid wind, or the cold rain numbing my fingers.
|Jentel Plein Air acrylic on canvas approx. 50" x 60"|
|"The Thousands"acrylic on canvas approx. 42" x 55"|
|"Wyoming Flowers" acrylic on paper 22.5" x 30" 2019|
|"Magpies" mixed media on paper 22.5" x 30" 2019|
|"Lower Piney Creek" acrylic on paper 22.5" x 30"|
Ultimately these paintings were completed in the shelter of my studio, but their impetus was commanded by the landscape and my relationship to it.
It was beyond incredible to have a huge studio and all the time in the world to paint or hike the thousands of rugged acres surrounding the site. These images probably represent 60% of the work I produced during my four weeks in residence.
Thanks for the journey, Jentel! Give my best to Wyoming. Love, Ursula